Should You Wear Shorts Horseback Riding – Pros And Cons

Wear Shorts Horseback Riding
Wear Shorts Horseback Riding

Yes, you can wear shorts horseback riding. For example, if you just want to go for a quick dip in the water bareback. Although in most cases, riding with jodhpurs, breeches, tight-fitting jeans, riding tights or even yoga pants/leggings will be far more suitable and beneficial.

Of course, this depends on what type of horse riding you are planning on doing. Outride, jumping, or going for a dip? In most instances, I wouldn’t recommend wearing shorts.

There are some riders that enjoy riding their horse while wearing shorts and a lot of them have no problem with it. They are usually more experienced riders and so they know how to control their legs in a way that won’t chafe against the sides of the horse.

One Advantage Of Horseback Riding in Shorts:

If you are going for a run on the beach or doing something involving water, going for a swim in a nearby lake perhaps, it’s faster to dry than long pants and a bit cooler but that’s about it.

Another example of when it would be ok to wear shorts on horseback: When you just want a few good photos with you and your horse. None of the disadvantages of wearing shorts will impact you if you just walk in circles for some photos.

When Do People Horseback Ride With Shorts?

Here are some examples of when riders choose shorts for horseback riding:

When you experienced enough to do so without being uncomfortable

You can get used to casually riding your horse wearing shorts, the more you do it, the more comfortable it will feel. Some riders prefer it mostly just for casual short rides.

When you go for a very short ride

It would be best to keep the riding time down to a minimum and try to stay close to the farm so that you can get back quickly if you get uncomfortable.

When there aren’t any obstacles

It’s best to avoid wearing shorts when performing any jumps because of all the vigorous movements you need to endure with the horse. With the way that you control the horse with your legs, especially with jumping, it’s just better with riding pants like the ones further down in this article.

When you go for a quick dip in the water nearby

Sometimes it’s a treat to go for a dip in the water nearby. This is one of the times where I think it’s great just to go bareback and perfectly fine just to wear shorts. They won’t get heavy with the water and they’ll dry quickly as well.

When it’s very hot

Sometimes you just need a little more open air on your legs to cool you down. Remember to use sunblock to protect your legs.

When you just want a few photos with you in your shorts on your horse

Maybe you just want to hop on your horse with your shorts on and have someone take a few photos. I don’t see any cause for concern with this.

Horseback Rider Shorts

Disadvantages of Horseback Riding in Shorts

Rash, blister, and pinching:

For less experienced riders you’ll most likely land up with a bit of a rash, sometimes even some blistering, and if you saddle up your thighs are probably going to get a few good pinches between the stirrup straps throughout the ride.


With short pants, your legs will be exposed to the sun and you can get burnt very quickly. Apply sunblock, even if you have to buy some on the way.

Burning Saddle:

The leather of the saddle can also heat up rather quickly and burn your skin sometimes. So, for the most part, there’s not much good to say about riding a horse wearing shorts.

Sharp bushes and branches:

We can’t even suggest wearing shorts for an outride. Your legs will be so much more exposed to all sorts of sharp branches from bushes and trees. Bugs will have an easier time feasting off your legs.

When in doubt, ask.

It really is up to you, however, if you are not riding your own horse on your own land, check with the owners or renters on whether they will allow shorts to be worn. Some places won’t let you ride in shorts. Short pants have no place in the competitive equestrian scene.

Tips for Horse Riding in Shorts

Ok so at this point you have seen all the pros and cons but you still want to or maybe need to ride your horse wearing shorts. Maybe you just want a few good photos out of it. That could work. Here’s my advice:

  • Don’t go out for any lengthy rides
  • Use sunblock on top of and on the sides of your legs
  • If you start feeling skin irritation, call it a day, it will only get worse
  • Be careful not to get pinched between the stirrup straps and the saddle
  • If you are capable of riding bareback, rather do that in shorts so that you don’t get pinched and burnt by the saddle.
  • No matter which pants you wear or don’t wear, ALWAYS wear proper riding boots with heels. (More important than the pants)
Horseback Rider Wearing Shorts

Quick Tip on Casual Clothing:

Don’t wear any flowing clothing while horse riding or anything that has any freely hanging laces or straps.

Why Wear Jodhpurs, Breeches, or Riding Tights?

There is a reason why long pants are the preferred choice of riders in general and why it’s the ONLY choice in the professional horse-riding scene. It’s because of how well they work for horse riding.

These types of riding pants are tailored specifically for horse riding so they often have extra padding, they are stretchy for comfort and the seams of these types of pants are offset so that they don’t cause irritation between your legs and the horse.

Advantages of Jodhpurs, Breeches, and Riding Tights are as follows:

  1. Protection for your legs from sunburn.
  2. They will protect your legs from chafing or even blisters.
  3. They will prevent any pinching of your legs around the saddle and straps.
  4. They will guard your legs against bugs and other insects.
  5. They will keep your legs from getting scraped and scratched against bushes and tree branches.
  6. They give you more leg control on the horse without any discomfort.
  7. You will be able to go out for longer riding sessions.
  8. Certain jodhpurs and breeches will have extra padding on the areas that go through the most friction for a more comfortable ride.
  9. The seams are offset so that they don’t cause discomfort between the horse and your leg.


Jodhpurs, the little more casual choice, go all the way down to the bottom of your ankle and are usually folded up for the perfect fit. Some jodhpurs have a stirrup at the bottom to wrap around your foot to prevent them from riding up to your ankles.

Some jodhpurs also have extra padding on the inner leg section to make riding more comfortable. Jodhpurs stretch with the movements of your body, making everything feel better. The seams are offset away from the horse’s body to avoid chafing.

Jodhpurs are very well suited for children and beginners of all ages because of their ease of use. You put them on and they stay in place from start to end. Most of the time.


Breeches, the little more formal choice, are very similar to jodhpurs in that they are also stretchy for comfort, more often they have padding where it counts. Breeches usually don’t have a stirrup at the bottom, but they fit tightly around the top of your ankle. The further to your ankle the breeches go, the more narrow they become making them fit snugly around the bottom of your leg.

Riding Tights

Riding tights have become very popular amongst all riders over the last decades. They are very flexible and quite durable. You don’t have to fasten them at the top. Riding tights are available in many designs.

Bonus Tip, Wear Proper Riding Boots

Wearing proper horse riding boots is one of the most important things you can do. More important than whether you want to wear shorts on a ride. Have a look at the most

Horse Show Preparation Genius guide to staying sane!

Horse Show Preperation

Taking your equine partner off-property to compete in a new environment can be a very nerve-wracking and stressful experience. If things are not prepared and planned out ahead of time there is a chance that critical items may be left behind at home. To ensure smooth sailing while away, it is extremely important that horse show preparation and organization begin weeks ahead of your departure date.

Over the years that I have been competing in different riding competitions, I have gained the organizational skills needed in order to be prepared ahead of time. In the past I would pack up my horse tack the night before leaving, this left me scrambling to find a pair of gloves or boots to borrow while in the show ring.

As you can guess, that carried over to my performance within the show ring, because of all the scrambling that happened before mounting and feeling stressed. To make sure you do not make the same mistakes, here are some pointers to follow.

Months Before Competition

Before deciding which classes you will be competing in it is important to figure out what both you and your horse are comfortable doing. This can be done by practicing various jumping exercises or creating conditioning sets to get in peak athletic shape.

Having a professional trainer to guide you is always highly encouraged as they will always be willing to help with different questions and advice. It is very important to make sure that you keep your horse on a consistent schedule to allow for muscle buildup and fluidity within training.

At this point in time, it is also a good idea to figure out if others would also be interested in going to the horse show. This allows you and others to figure out trailering placement for your horses so you are not left looking for a ride last minute.

Weeks Before Competition

At this point in time, you should have consulted with a trainer and decided on which divisions you will be competing in. This allows for better preparation in pinpointing what you exactly need to be working on.

This may mean that you have a dressage test that needs practicing, a certain jump height that will need to be implemented within the coursework, or a cross-country level that needs to be schooled. Oftentimes issues arise that may need extra attention.

Personally, my horse has trouble picking up his left lead while doing a dressage test, because of this weakness I have been doing more transitions while going to the left to strengthen up that side of his body.

Horse Show Preperation

Preparing Your List

I recommend that you begin creating a list of things that you will need to pack in the weeks to come (I will include my personal list below). Your list should include things for both riding and horse care.

It helps to put the items needed under different categories to make it easier to read. While writing out your list, think of the order you will use the different items and write them down as they come to mind as you may discover you need to pack more items than expected. Also make sure to double-check your list before packing.

Horse Show Packing List

Riding essentials:

  • Boots (for horses)
  • Saddle
  • Ear Bonnet
  • Riding Crop/Whip
  • Saddle Pad
  • Half Pad

Grooming Essentials:

Stable Supplies:

Horse Care:


  • Hay
  • Grain
  • Alfalfa Cubes

For The Rider:

  • Muck/Tall Boots
  • Tan Breeches
  • White Show Shirt
  • Black Belt
  • Tall Socks
  • Black Gloves
Horse Grooming Tools

Days Before Competition

As your competition begins to approach faster and faster, your nerves and excitement will increase. It is now time to go over your packing list and start organizing everything! I recommend using a tack trunk with wheels as it is easier to move from place to place (I use a 50-gallon Stanley chest) this allows me to pack many items into it.

Gather all of your items into one area and start packing them up neatly. Place the larger items on the bottom such as saddle pads and blankets, as the trunk fills place the smaller items on the top. Use a Tupperware container to store little clips or ties along with other small items.

Leather items such as saddles and bridles should be protected by saddle covers and bridle bags. This prevents your tack from obtaining scratches and keeps them nice and neat. Once all of your horse’s tack has been gathered, start loading it into the trailer. It is best to do this the night before departure when you are done using your equipment. 

Load in an organizational manner so unloading is a seamless process. This is also a good time to pack up the hay, grain, and supplements your horse will need over the next few days. Scoop the grain into separate ziplock bags for each feeding, this is easier than hauling large bags that will take up lots of space.

Depending on how much your horse eats you will need to be sure to bring enough hay. Be sure to also have all of your clothes/essentials/food packed the night before leaving! 

Day of Competition/Departure Day

Arrive at your barn early enough to begin getting your horse prepared to leave. Every horse acts differently within the trailer which means some may need standing wraps, shipping boots, or a head bumper.

Standing wraps help protect the horses’ legs from any possible injuries that may occur while within the trailer. Head bumpers are also another piece of protective equipment that prevents head injuries if they were to hit their head on the roof of the trailer. Once your horse is all wrapped and prepared it is time to go!

Arrival At Showgrounds

When you arrive at the showgrounds it is important to first unload your equine partner and get them settled into their stall with water and hay, this allows them to become comfortable with the new surroundings. Next all tack and equipment will need to be unloaded in an organized way.

Oftentimes I will rent a “tack stall” to store away all my things while I am at the competition. A lock and chain will also be used in this case to keep my equipment safe while I am not there. The day before I compete at the new venue I will always hack around the property to get my horse comfortable with the new surroundings.

At the end of each night always clean up your area and reorganize everything so it will be ready for the next morning. Lastly, always keep a positive and uplifting attitude towards other competitors while competing as it can oftentimes become stressful, and in the end, you are all in it together! Happy horse showing!

Finding The Perfect Horse Riding Discipline

Perfect Horse Riding Discipline Featured
English Horse Rider

There are countless disciplines within the equestrian world. Even though every discipline involves horses, each discipline differs in many ways. Some disciplines are more expensive, more popular, and more intense than others. With so many options to choose from, how are you able to find the perfect discipline for you? Check out what each discipline entails in order to pick the perfect horse riding discipline for you!


In order to choose which discipline is best for you, you have to decide whether you are more interested in an English or Western style of riding. Within English and Western riding styles, there are multiple disciplines to choose between. Some of these disciplines focus on speed, others focus on position, and some purely focus on the horse! In order to decide which discipline you would like to focus on, figure out what you would like to work on as an equestrian.



Dressage is one of the most common disciplines in the English style of riding. Dressage focuses purely on flatwork and how you and your horse can maneuver as a team. This discipline does not focus on speed but rather focuses on footwork, strength, and how well you are able to ride your horse through a series of movements.

Dressage is scored based on how calm, collected, and effortless your movements look. If you are looking for a discipline where you are able to focus on position, movement, and poise then dressage may be the perfect discipline for you!


Showjumping is another common discipline within the English riding community. This riding discipline focuses on speed, agility, and technique. Just like the name says, show jumping involves jumping! This discipline is judged on how fast a rider and horse are able to jump a course without knocking rails or going over the time allowed.

Though this discipline seems simple and straightforward, a lot of technique is involved in order to get through these unpredictable courses! If you are looking for a bit of an adrenaline rush within riding, then this discipline may be for you.


Hunter jumper is similar to showjumping with a few differences in scoring. Though you are still jumping while doing this discipline, it is scored on the horses’ movements, how the horse jumps, and if each line is correct. Hunter jumper is not scored on how fast your horse completes the course, but rather on how correctly your horse moves and jumps.

Hunter jumper also has a “hunter under saddle” option in which all the classes focus on flatwork. This discipline is a great option for someone who is looking for the adrenaline of jumping but also wants to focus on correctness and looking pretty!


Eventing is the ultimate English discipline! This discipline of riding contains three events including dressage, cross country, and showjumping. Though dressage and showjumping can be done as separate disciplines, cross country is specific to eventing.

Eventers are known as the adrenaline junkies of the equestrian world, as this discipline is arguably one of the most dangerous. Since cross country contains jumps that are on uneven terrain and the jumps are solid, it can be quite intimidating to compete.  Eventing has three separate events to show off your horses’ diversity in discipline. So if you are looking for an adrenaline rush, look into eventing!


Western Horseback Riding

Western Pleasure

Western pleasure is a slow and steady discipline in the equestrian world. This discipline is judged on how calm and collected you and your horse are in the show ring. Though this discipline may look easy, it takes quite a bit of technique to keep your horse calm and responsive! This is a great discipline for someone looking to stay slow and focus on equitation and how the horse moves.

Barrel Racing

Barrel racing sounds just like its name! In the discipline of barrel racing you complete a clover pattern as fast as you can on your horse. Barrel racing usually is combined with other Western speed events such as pole bending. This discipline is judged on how fast you are able to complete the patterns given. This discipline is a great option for those looking for an adrenaline rush!


Reining is a fun Western discipline that entails different fast-paced maneuvers such as sliding stops and turns. This discipline is judged by how well these maneuvers are done. Reining is one of the largest Western disciplines and is a discipline that would suit someone who would like to focus on technique and speed!

Which Horse Riding Discipline Is Right For Me?

This question is difficult to answer since every equestrian is different and has different goals for their riding. This is only a short list of the available disciplines out there! Think about which style of riding is near you, which style interests you most, and what you want as a rider!

7 Tips to Regain Confidence in Horseback Riding

Girl And Her Horse
Young Girl Hugging Horse

Every equestrian understands how dangerous and complicated horseback riding can be. No matter the discipline you choose, there are risks we take every time we swing a leg over a horse. Knowing the danger can lead to nerves and a lack of confidence in the saddle.

Whether your nerves arise from riding green horses, preparing for shows, or recovering from a fall, it is important to regain the confidence to improve your riding. Here are our top 7 tips to regain confidence in horseback riding.

Tips to regain confidence in horseback riding

Wearing a helmet

I know many barns enforce a helmet rule while riding, however, I also know barns who do not. A helmet is a necessary part of my riding routine as it keeps my head protected and keeps my confidence intact. If you do not already wear a helmet, I would strongly suggest introducing one to your routine. If falls make you nervous, a helmet will add the protection your head needs!

talking to your trainer

Regain Confidence In Horseback Riding

If you find yourself questioning your riding ability often, I recommend talking to a trainer about your concerns. If you are worried about your equitation, ask your trainer to talk you through a lesson or record a video of you riding. Go over your riding together and find highlights of your riding and where to improve. Communicating with  a professional will help!

ride a babysitter horse

If a large part of your concerns while riding revolve around the horse you ride, it might be a good idea to ride a made horse for a while. Riding green horses can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Talk to your trainer about riding one of the lesson horses for a week or two. Switching your young, green horse for a made lesson horse will bring your confidence back to where it needs to be!

self talk

This may seem strange, but this is my go-to tip for calming my nerves when riding. When practicing a test or working through a course, I say what I am doing out loud to myself and my horse. Not only does it remind me what I need to do, my horse also focuses on my voice and less on the random things he could potentially spook at. Just remember not to scream out your dressage test during a show! That will probably end with some strange looks on the judges faces!

spending quality time with your horse

Girl Riding Quarterhorse

All equestrians understand how important teamwork is with your horse. Understanding each other is the key to success within this sport. If you are losing confidence due to a few complications while riding you should try spending some quality time with your horse. Hang out in their stall, go for a walk around the property, give them a good bath, or something other than riding where you and your horse can bond. Groundwork is great for improving the relationship between you and your horse!

go back to the basics

If you find yourself getting nervous attempting new things when riding such as jumping higher, going faster, or anything you are not used to, try going back to the basics. Work on flatwork a ton! Make sure you are 100% confident in each gait when flatting your horse. If you aren’t perfectly confident while trotting your horse, you should not attempt to canter. An accident will hinder your confidence even more!

read “brain training for riders” by andrea monsarrat waldo

Though I have spent the majority of my equestrian life being the confident rider, I have had my moments of nervousness and outright fear to get on certain horses. Brain Training For Riders explains the psychology behind your brain when riding and how to overcome your nerves. If you are having any confidence issues when showing, riding green horses, or improving your own riding, I would check this book out now! It has changed my mindset for the better!

Ride with confidence

Fear is natural, especially when you are on top of a 1200 pound animal with a mind of its own.  Do not let nerves or fear hinder the love and passion you have for horseback riding. If you are experiencing confidence issues while riding, follow these tips, and watch your confidence improve in the saddle!

Horseback Riding on a Budget – Ride For Less

Horseback Riding On A Budget Featured

The stereotype surrounding equestrians revolves around having a lot of money. Though horses are expensive, there are plenty of options that can help reduce the cost of owning a horse. Whether it is board or breeches you are worried about, there is a way to manage all of your equestrian related expenses! Here are some ways to keep horseback riding on a budget!

Equestrian Expenses

The most important thing to understand when riding is that purchasing a horse is the least expensive thing you will purchase as an equestrian. After purchasing a horse, you have to worry about recurring necessities for your horse such as board payment, feed, supplements, hay, farrier, vet bills, teeth floating, and much more.

There are also many expenses that are not as recurring such as tack, riding apparel, brushes, and more. This can seem intimidating, as these expenses can add up quickly. Though horseback riding may seem only for the wealthy, there are plenty of ways to ride on a budget.

Horseback Riding On A Budget Breakdown

The Horse

Since horseback riding is an expensive sport, you will need some money in order to begin. Luckily, you do not need to purchase a horse in order to begin riding. There are options such as taking lessons, leasing and purchasing. Just taking lessons is the cheapest option, as you will just need to purchase some apparel in order to ride.

Though taking lessons is the cheapest option, you will usually only have access to this horse during your lessons. If you were to choose an option such as leasing, you would have access to this horse a few times a week. Leasing a horse requires a monthly payment to the owner of the horse in order to use this horse for recreational riding. Depending on the lease contract, you may have the opportunity to use this horse for showing and off-property riding. Some lease contracts do not require the purchase of tack and responsibility of vet bills.

Purchasing a horse is the most expensive of these options, however it will give you the most opportunity with your horse. You have full control over your riding experience when you choose to purchase a horse. Though you have full control, you also have full responsibility over all the expenses that come with your horse.

Horses can range from free to thousands of dollars. Make sure you purchase a horse in your price range and that you will be able to use it for your discipline. Carefully evaluate your income and commitment to riding before making the decision to lease or purchase a horse.

Board Payment

If you were to choose to purchase a horse, you will have to deal with the monthly board payment. Each barn has a different set price to board your horse there. These prices can range from a couple of hundred dollars to a thousand.

Horseback Riding On A Budget

It may seem like the best option to choose the cheapest barn in your area, however you may end up regretting that decision. Before choosing a barn, see if they provide feed, hay, shavings, and other benefits within the board payment.

Sometimes paying more for the board will end up paying other expenses you would otherwise have to worry about. Evaluate what you want within a barn. Some good questions to consider before making your decision:

  • Does this barn follow my discipline?
  • Does this barn provide feed/hay?
  • Will I have to clean my own stall and feed my own horses each day?
  • How far will I have to travel to this barn?
  • Do I enjoy the atmosphere in this barn?
  • Does this barn have an indoor, trails, etc?
  • Do I get along with others at this barn?

Apparel and Tack

Whether you choose to take lessons, lease, or purchase your own horse, you will need to purchase riding apparel and occasionally your own tack. This can be the least or most expensive purchase point for equestrians. You will need to decide if you are willing to spend more on tack and apparel or if you want to save in that department. Some tips to save on tack and apparel:

  • Look for sales on different equestrian sites
  • Look for used bridles, saddles, breeches, and other tack or apparel
  • Look at reviews on cheap tack to ensure they work properly
  • Maintain your tack and apparel so you will not have to replace it early
  • Look at thrift stores for riding apparel. Some places do not understand how expensive some items are and you can get a great deal!
  • Compare prices on different sites and items

Unexpected Expenses

As a college student, I have had a difficult time-saving money. It took me a while to establish savings in order for me to have the extra money in case of an unexpected vet bill. However, there are ways to save and keep money compiled for unexpected expenses.

Since you will never know how much an unexpected vet bill will be, it is always best to overcompensate. Whether it is a vet bill, tack breaking, behind on board payments, or another large financial commitment, there is a way to come up with the cash! A few tips that helped me, a horse obsessed college kid:

  • Save small, it grows faster than you think!
  • Prioritize necessities! Do not spend that money on a matchy set if you know you will need teeth floating done next week.
  • Save money in an account you do not access unless necessary
  • If possible, get ahead on payments
  • Keep loose change! It adds up quickly!
  • Take a percentage of your paycheck and keep it in a savings

Tips and Tricks

Whether you have the nicest tack and the most expensive horse in the barn or if you are working hard to afford what you can, all equestrians have one thing in common: we love our horses and would do anything for them.

Horse Apples

Saving money is important no matter what kind of equestrian you are. As a college student, I found many tips and tricks to save money horseback riding. Here is what I have learned:

  • Ask if you can reduce board payments by feeding or cleaning stalls
  • See if your horse is eligible for a lesson horse, this can reduce board payments
  • Save for the unexpected
  • Evaluate what you can afford! Lessons, leasing, or purchasing
  • Find someone to lease your horse if necessary. This can help with finances and board payment
  • Know what is necessary tack and apparel and what is not
  • Understand you do not need the most expensive things

be a frugal Rider

You do not have to have millions in order to ride horses. Horseback riding on a budget means you just have to be smart with money! The stereotype behind equestrians being rich is just quite the contrary. The only requirements are commitment and a passion for horses. If you possess those qualities, being an equestrian should be no issues for you!

What Color Saddle Pad Looks Best on My Horse?

Woman Taking Horse Saddle Off Horse
What Color Saddle Pad Looks Best On My Horse

One common question I always get asked when tacking up with my barn buddies is “Does this color look good on my horse?” Now, I do not think horses necessarily look bad in specific colors, but there is usually a specific color that looks best on each colored horse. So, what color saddle pad looks best on my horse?

Fashion sense in the equestrian world is more common than we may think. Whether it is choosing which color breeches work best with our polos or matching our saddle pads to our ear bonnets, we’re always looking to look good!


Grey horses can be slightly strange to find colors for, as they do not have a predominant color. Depending on whether they are flea-bitten, dappled, or perfectly pristine white can all have an effect on what color looks good on them! Good news for grey owners: no color looks bad on grey horses! However, if you are looking to pop in that arena, look into the following colors for your horse


Palomino’s tend to be trickier than some since the color mostly depends on the undertone of the saddle pad. Since most palominos have a warmer undertone to them, you will want to find a warm tone colored saddle pad. No matter what color you choose for your palomino, there is one that will always turn heads in the ring. Hunter Green is the way to go with a flashy palomino!


Similar to palomino’s, chestnuts need a warm-toned saddle pad color. Since this
color is in the middle of the range, you have quite a bit of freedom! If your
chestnut is lighter than most, you might want to stick to a darker color. If your
chestnut is darker than most, you might want to add a bright color that will pop!


As a bay horse rider and saddle pad enthusiast myself, I have found that there
are many colors that work well (and NOT so well) on bay horses. Depending on
how predominant the red is in your bay will impact which color suits your horse
best. The more red, the less red you will want in your color! So blood bay horse
owners: red may not be the best option!


Black horses are easy to find saddle pads for because practically every color looks great on them! Since black horses’ hair is so dark, a pop of color usually will turn heads rather than dark colors. Any pastel or neon color will do the trick! Though I enjoy many colors on black horses, a bright blue will always look the best on a black horse!

Neutral Color

If you are not a fan of bright colors on your horse, do not fear. There are still countless options for minimalistic equestrians. Black and white saddle pads can get boring after a while (and dirty). One way to spice up your tack is by adding a pop of color to the piping! Finding a neutral saddle pad with piping that matches your horse’s color will keep you looking sleek in the ring. For example, if you have a bay horse, adding red piping on a white saddle pad will keep it interesting and sleek. 

Summing it up

Finding the perfect color saddle pad for your horse is not the most stressful thing we have to do as equestrians. No matter the color, your horse will shine in the show ring! However, it is fun and exciting to know you and your horse will look good strutting into the arena. Find what fits you!

What Is The Best Horse Riding Style For You?

Best Horse Riding Style
Best Horse Riding Style

Are you thinking about horse riding for the first time and are a bit nervous about it? It’s natural to be nervous when riding a large animal for the first time. Most people interested in horse riding often inquire about the best horse riding style.  Horseback riding is often split between Western and English riding as the most common types of riding styles.

These two styles are influenced by their origin and are differentiated by the characteristics and equipment. In all of these styles, the rider is supposed to sit straight without leaning forward or backward.

However, the two styles differ in the sense that the saddle in Western-style is larger than that of an English saddle, which helps the rider when engaging in the jumping events. The larger saddle is crucial in horse riding to balance the rider’s weight and make it ideal and comfortable for longer trails. Western Riding Style


Western Riding Style

Western riding has evolved from day to day work on ranches into a group of competitive exercises. The riding style shows athleticism, diligence, and connection between the horse and a rider. Most of the riding types are easier for cow-herding horses and are characterized by a wider saddle and neck reins. There are several events and activities associated with the western riding that differentiates it from the English riding. The activities include barrel racing, western pleasure, reining, roping, and cutting, among others.

Western pleasure

Western Pleasure Riding

Western pleasure is an event in the Western riding style where horses compete in a group by performing several activities and awarded points by the judge. This means the horses compete against each other while judged for their appearances, movement, and style. Western pleasure finds its name from a requirement that a horseman finds pleasure riding the horse. This means the horse should be quiet, soft, and responsive to the rider’s cues during the activity. A smooth, cadenced, and balanced ride is given preference over speed.


Reining Horse Riding Style

In western riding, reining is equal to dressage of the English riding style. This event is described by a rider controlling and guiding a horse through several movements and patterns involving turns, spins, and circles. This event is different from western pleasure as it involves the crowd applauding every good move by the horse instead of being quiet. The judges determine the winner based on how well the horse submits to the rider and its accuracy in the spins.

Cutting and penning

Caddle Cutting

Cutting is an event that highlights the cow sense where a rider and his horse are supposed to prevent a single cow from rejoining its herd. The event starts by isolating a cow from a herd and steering it away from the group. The horse then has to prevent it from moving back for a certain period by anticipating where it will go and moving in that direction. As such, the horse will have to move quickly left and right to block the escape. It takes a particular horse to participate in cutting events, which means not all horses can compete.

Roping events

Calf Roping

This is a western riding style event described by a rider trying to tie a rope around a steer’s horn while riding the horse. It requires a rider to throw the lasso at a steer while riding at high speed and bring it to immediate stop without following over. The horseman then dismounts and ties three legs together in the shortest time possible. The winner of this event is the rider who stops his steer and ties its legs with a rope in the shortest amount of time than the other contestants

Barrel racing

Barrel Racing

This is another western riding style event that involves a rider and his horse entering an arena at high speed and completing a cloverleaf type pattern around 3 barrels placed along the route. The event is characterized by the horse, making tight and swiftly turns around barrels without knocking them over or cutting in too close. Penalties are awarded whenever the horse knocks a barrel, and the rider will lose points. In essence, barrel racing is judged based on the horse speed and its accuracy in avoiding the barrels.

ranch riding

Ranch riding is an event in horse riding where the horse performs optional and required maneuvers willingly and smoothly while responding to cues from the rider. The horse needs to show it can perform while outside the confines of a ring. The judges will look for the smooth execution when the horse transits between gaits to ensure it maintains the correct pace between maneuvers. The required movements are walking, jogging, and lopping in both directions. The optional maneuvers can include walking, jogging, or loping over poles.  Change of lead, side pass, or other maneuvers that a horse might perform in a working environment.

Trail riding

Trail riding is another Western event that involves horses having to separately work through obstacles and judged based on their ability to ride the trails without penalties; For example, the horses will be working through gates and several pole patterns, with the win based on their success to reverse the trail. The idea of trail riding is for the horses to successfully go through the obstacles as found on the trail. The judgment criteria for this event are based on how well the horse obeys commands and whether it is willing to complete the tasks.

Larger sanctioned shows often have strict guidelines on the types of obstacles used, the time given to complete each obstacle, and the gates used while riding.  Local shows tend to have less strict rules governing the obstacles, but can be far more imaginative in the types of obstacles required during the event.

Endurance riding

Endurance is a component of Western riding style where horses are supposed to compete with each other over a distance of 50 to 100 miles in a day. Before each ride, the horse is checked over by a veterinarian to make sure they are ready to go on the ride. The trails are marked for halts and natural obstacles found along the trail.

Each ride is divided into sections where the animal is checked over to make sure they are in good shape to continue the ride. The horse is then watered and fed before resting up to 60 minutes. After this time has elapsed they are allowed to continue.

Riders really need to know their horses’ limitations and stamina during these rides. At any time the rider can walk with the horse to lessen the burden if the horse is fatiguing. There is no penalty to do this.

The first horse that crosses the finish line and is checked over and found healthy is declared the winner of the event.


This is an event that requires a horse with agility, speed, and showing obedience to the rider. The horses are not judged on their appearance and quality, which means any horse can be trained to participate in the gymkhana. In the United States, gymkhana includes several events such as pole bending, barrel racing, and lag races.

English Riding Style

English riding style is more structured compared to the Western-style and adds more pomp to the events. The significant characteristics of English riding are jumping techniques and high stepping styles. However, the method also involves switching up arenas, obstacles, and expectations. There are several activities for the English rider that includes eventing, dressage, showjumping, polo, English pleasure Hunt Seat, and saddle seat.


English Eventing

Eventing is a competition that resembles an equine triathlon combining show jumping, cross-country jumping, and dressage. It is called combined training, where the horse is judged based on its stamina, agility, and how well it obeys the rider’s instruction. The event is often held over three days and has origins in the Olympics.  In this event, any horse can participate and is the only Olympic sport where men and women can compete against each other.

Any breed of horse can compete, but at the higher levels, Thoroughbreds are most often used at the higher level events due to their supreme stamina and athletic ability.

The horse and rider need to really be in sync with each other and the horse needs to be quiet and confident in its abilities.  Serious injuries have occurred during these events when horses became spooked or didn’t handle certain obstacles well causing the rider to be thrown, or the horse to fall and be injured.

English Pleasure

English Pleasure

English pleasure is an event where the horses perform as a group and judge on their performance, quality, and an impression of being a pleasure to ride. Horses that take part in this even should exhibit obedience, impeccable manners, and suitability to a pleasure riding. The horse should also transit from one gait to another in a smooth, quick, and effortless way. The judges also look for horses that obey a rider’s cues and one that can stand quietly and back readily in the line-up.



Dressage refers to the art of horse riding, including the theories of horse obedience and precision of movement. In English riding style, the dressage event involves horses going through shifts, circles, and lines while changing pace and direction until they win with the most points. On some occasions, the horses will be required to extend their gait or perform lateral movements in order to win. Judges will award points based on the accuracy of horses during shifts and how well they submit to the help from riders. At the same time, the horses are judged based on their straightness and correctness when going through the patterns. The audience is often required to hold their applause until the end to avoid spooking the horses.

Saddle seat

Saddle Seat

This is a style of horse riding that involves showing off the high action of horses. The goal of this event is to show off the extravagant gaits of a horse, such as a trot. Riders are expected to sit well back in the saddle while carrying their hands higher than in other disciplines. The horses have to be smooth and comfortable enough for hours of riding and the rider must make the ride appear to be effortless.

Hunt Seat

Hunt Seat

In English riding style, hunting is an event that involves a group of competing horses performing gait and direction change over fences or on a flat area. The horse is judged based on how well it obeys and submits to instructions, how well they can maintain an even head carriage, as well as a horse’s ability to race quietly. Style is essential in hunter classes, and the horse will be judged on how its form while jumping the fence.

Horses may be any breed with the requirements of having a long stride and little knee action. Being quiet with the ability to listen to the rider is key for a hunt seat horse.


Show Jumping

Showjumping is where a horse and rider work around a combination of fences of differing heights while being timed. Hitting and dropping a rail results in a time penalty. The course used in completion varies depending on the level of competition.

Cross Country

This is a horse riding endurance test that involves horses jumping over several obstacles over a long course. It is one of the longest horse riding races that require a well-built horse. In this event, riders are penalized whenever they exceed the time period or when horses fail to clear all hurdles. The winner of the event is the team that completes the course with the least amount of penalties. The lowest score is then the winner



Polo is a game played between two teams of four players each using mallets to drive wooden balls down a grass field and between goalposts. Each rider wears helmets, colored team shirts, riding boots, and white pants. For further protection, riders can attach facemask on helmets and wear gloves.

Wrapping It Up

Each riding style has plenty of options to choose from.  Pick one that best fits your personality and most importantly, the personality of your horse. You may decide to compete or just be a casual rider. No matter what riding style you choose you’ll be developing a bond between you and horse that is both fulfilling and rewarding for life.

Foal Imprinting – Is The Practice Right For You

Foal Imprinting Featured
Foal Imprinting

The beginning of life possesses limitless mind possibilities for all creatures. At this stage, they can be molded and impressed into anything anyone wishes them to become. For newborn horses, the natal guidance into submission and affability by the owner is what experts call foal imprinting. It is a controversial topic with many research studies and opinions labeled for it and against it.

Could this at-birth procedure help to make a quiet and friendly horse in the future for vet treatment, shoeing or riding activities? There is no simple yes or no answer to that.


What is Foal Imprinting?

Foal imprinting was first brought to light by Konrad Lorenz, an Australian zoologist who observed that geese developed a lifelong attachment to their first handler when they hatch. Robert M. Miller, DVM, later popularized the practice through his many books on the subject.

Dr. Miller realized, in his several years of practice, that the foals he had helped deliver were effortless to deal with in his follow up visits. Based on his practical experiences, he compiled the imprinting techniques he had proved effective in his Imprint Training Manual.

Newborn Foal

Miller states that foal imprinting has three main objectives, including:

  • Strengthening the bond with you– your smell, sound, and appearance gets ingrained on the animal’s long term memory
  • Desensitizing the colt to what it may consider frightening stimuli
  • Teaching the animal to be submissive and respect you as the leader

The Foal Imprinting Process according to Miller

The mare must be friendly for the imprinting process to proceed without hiccups. Right after birth, you get to the foal and touch and rub his body. The success of this technique will depend on how effectively you handle the newborn horse.

First, when the foal is a few minutes or hours old, gently place him on the ground so that he lies on his side. Kneel to the side and hold his front and rear legs to keep him still. Get a second person to help you fold his head towards his rear, then reach over and start rubbing and touching each part of his body with medium aggressiveness.

The rubbing and touching procedures should happen when the young horse is standing and after he has nursed. Some owners prefer to rub the foal with a towel over his body before rubbing. You should naturally expect the horse to show some resistance when touching his ears and muzzle.

Experts insist that the imprinting should involve touching the foal’s legs and tapping his feet to prime him for his future farrier sessions psychologically. Similarly, spread your imprinting to his perineum, tail-head, and groin. These areas deserve sensitization for future vet sessions, according to foal imprinting experts.

Be sure to touch and rub the teats (for female horses), scrotum, penis and the rectum. Manipulate with your gloved and lubricated hand to get the horse accustomed to such exams in the future, experts say. Once your newborn foal accepts these procedures, flip him around and do the same on the other side.

Important to Remember

The imprinting process is rarely a one-day affair at birth. Imprint training typically goes on till the foal stops weaning. Regular grooming experts say, can help turn them ‘helplessly submissive’ and put their total trust in you. However, inconsistencies in your imprint training may produce the opposite effect when they become overly sensitive.

Remember that the learning, when they are young, is fast and permanent, so proceed with caution and teach the right lessons. You don’t want the horse to be a strong-willed creature with strong aversions for humans.

It’s never a sped-up process, take it slow, doing one thing until the horse completely relaxes and submits before moving on to another job. If you are flexing the foal’s leg or rubbing his ear and you stop before he gets accustomed to the feeling, all he will remember in the future is to jerk whenever he is touched in those places.

Emphasis should be placed on controlling movement. Be sure to teach the foal how to move back, forward or sideways on your command. Teach him how to stand patiently, lead willingly or rotate.

In the wild, horses exercised dominance over their peers by controlling their movement. Subordinates move or stop when the dominant horse moves. If you are the one controlling the young horse’s movement, you teach him a lifelong lesson that you are the dominant one, and that he should be submissive to you.

Dr. Miller asserts that missing lessons on movements create horses that are tolerant of handling, but are disobedient when it comes to controlling to their movement.

Why Horse Imprinting?

Horses are prey to other species and are thus naturally suspicious, frightful, and with a proclivity to flee. The young ones of all prey animals, including horses, are born ready. They can see, hear and smell, and if there is danger, at that very moment of their birth, they can get up and run for their lives. Nature gives them an ability to instantly bond with their mothers and the rest of the herd.

A newly born horse does not fear humans yet. If you happen to be there and proceed about it the right way, the animal can bond with you too, according to advocates of foal imprinting. You can supposedly program them to tolerate and recall all and everything that pertains to horse-human interactions, from the owner’s side to the farrier to the vet. That way, they say, the horse in his adult life will be less wary of unfamiliar experiences and objects or animals.

Foal In Pasture

For instance, by tapping the bottom of his feet 50 times after birth, Dr. Miller says that in the future, the horse will have no problem being shoed or hoof trimmed. He will recall the sensation and remain fearless. It’s believed the young animal could get accustomed to the sound of clippers and sprays before he is even one hour old.

The other compelling reason that foal imprinting proponents put forward is that wild horses have a leader. The latter is often an older mare that leads not by strength but by the molding of behavior and character.

Other horses submit to the leader by bowing their heads and foals by mouthing. As a horse owner, foal imprinting helps you assume the leading figure and earn his submissiveness without fear, according to Miller. The result is long-lasting trust and respect for you, and a desire to follow you.

Arguments for Foal Imprinting

Dr. Miller postulates that foal imprinting is similar to the Mozart Effect observed in humans. The researcher believes that as classical music can have a calming effect on the newborn if played before and after the baby is born, so does foal imprinting help to create friendly horses.

The Mozart Effect was a study by Gordon Shaw and his associates, investigating the effect of classical music on spatial reasoning. The researchers gave kids standard tests on abstract spatial reasoning after the listening sessions. Their findings included a temporary improvement in spatial thinking. Subsequent Mozart tests showed that playing music to unborn babies and infants can keep them happy. But given the transient effects of the calming and IQ enhancing nature of Mozart music, Dr. Miller’s allegations sound even more preposterous to those that oppose foal imprinting.

Animal behavior studies show that neonatal handling of foals can indeed reduce their reactivity to stressful conditions and reduce their fears of humans. Many animal behaviorists affirm that the neonatal period is the right time to decrease the anxiety, aversion, and self-defense towards future handling.

In many studies, foals that are consistently handled from birth to four months of age become fast learners and easier to train compared to those that get no handling.

The handling referenced by Fiske and Potter, 1979 involves brushing, leading and teaching restraint. The researchers found that relaxed foals learn better and are easier to train later in life compared to stressed foals. It has thus been established across all scientific quarters that young horses are quicker and more willing learners compared to mature ones.

A survey of 21 breeding farms revealed that there are extreme differences between imprinted foals and those not handled in the way they approached standing motionless persons. Similar behavioral differences were observed in the way the horses sought or averted human touch and the way they reacted when approached.

These studies strongly show that regular human-horse interaction may help to shape and influence the way the animals perceive humans. But there is lacking consensus as to how and when the ‘imprinting’ should be done and whether the positive results can be long-lasting.

Contradicting opinions and findings

Researchers caution the absolute belief of information and recommendations from anecdotal evidence and personal experiences. Such is how Dr. Miller’s findings are described in the scientific world. Even though animal behaviorists confirm that it is possible to build a strong bond between an animal and its caregiver through neonatal handling, many are quick to pronounce that it produces no long term advantages.

Mal and McCall (1996) handled newly born foals for 10 minutes daily for two weeks. Compared to the control group, the researchers found no evidence that handling foals affected their performance or ease of manageability.

Many scientists find fault with DR. Miller’s approach of forcing a foal into submission until it relaxes. The basis for any success in that undertaking, experts say, is that the foal has to learn that struggle does not get it free. The result, for strong and flighty foals, could be injuries and stress.

Another danger lies in interfering with the maternal bond between the mare and the foal. Dr. Miller proposes that foal imprinting should start before even the umbilical cord is severed. The first thing after any newborn comes into this world should be feeding. Getting there too early and doing all those procedures on the young horse risks his normal bond with the mare.

Extreme distress as an adverse effect of Miller’s foal imprinting was proven by McCall et al., 1985. Over handling of the newborn horse at this early stage, researchers believe, can impair the mare’s abilities. Foals separated for too long from their dams showed an insecure attachment to the dams even in adulthood.

Foal Nursing From Mother

In several studies, handled foals displayed abnormal suckling activity, including excessive chewing and teat seeking. The early birth feeding is essential to supply the young foal with antibodies in the mare’s colostrum. If imprinting delays and later impairs the young horse’s ability to feed, you may be exposing the foal to bacterial dangers. Rectal manipulation also leaves behind ‘open’ and free for the entry of microbes.

Positive Effects of Foal Imprinting

Daily imprint training may successfully improve the foal’s reaction to handling, people and objects. This is important in creating a friendly horse that is not fearful of the owner’s training, saddling and riding, the farrier’s hoof care and the vet’s treatment. It establishes the behavior pattern that acclimatizes the horse, possibly, to all such activities in the future to serve as a useful animal.

Early training could assure and strengthen the relationship between the horse and the owner. The horse bonds and submits to the owner, which may make your work of care and training much easier. At-home grooming and inspection of the young horse become an easier task after desensitization.

Horses, being prey and flight animals need to be taught not to fear. That’s what the desensitization bit in foal imprinting helps to accomplish. Otherwise, simple stimuli such as a touch from you could elicit frightening stimuli for the animal. In their jerky and flighty movements, an un-imprinted horse could cause injuries to you and your family, or himself.

Through the imprinting session, the yearling learns performance basics, including haltering and response reinforcement. This is crucial in racehorses and lays the foundation for a smooth future in performance training, one would say. The colt learns to be a better athlete only by realizing that you, the trainer is trustworthy. The animal learns to respond to voice commands, touch signals, and wands.

Horses are born with hereditary tension like other prey animals. Eliminating that tension through proper foal imprinting may help to improve the quality of life for the animal. How, if you ask, is by enhancing their freedom of movement, balance, and coordination. Human assisted feeding, if the mare gets into problems, will be easier and help to keep your horse healthier. Young and first-time mares often run into milk production challenges.

Adverse Effects of Foal Imprinting

Excessive bonding to humans can result from over-handling the foal. The horse may grow up not distinguishing between you and other animals. The compelling into submission part of the training suggested by Miller can turn a horse into a pet, one would say. At their tender age, behaviors such as sucking and nipping on your fingers may be cute, but they are not acceptable for older animals.

Most imprinting techniques teach the foals to submit from fear. Many consider Miller’s invasive procedures as ‘inhumane’ for the animal.

Denying the yearling the early hours of his birth to bind with the mother can lead to feeding problems. As seen earlier, the young horse may also grow unhealthily attached to their mother even later in life. That may be as a result of stresses and traumas of imprinting.

In the first few hours after birth, the young horse needs feeding (for colostrum antibodies), and the mother needs to shed off her placental tissues. Early imprint training, experts warn, may interfere with these activities. The result could be an increased risk of infections for both mare and foal.

Foal And Mare

Foal Imprinting: Suggested Ways to get it Right

Ensure that foals stand within an hour after birth and that they nurse within two hours. The mare should expel her fetal tissues within three hours of foaling.

A vet should be by your side within 24 hours after birth to examine the new foal. A physical exam is enough at this tender age.

Let the mare and foal bond in the brief moments after birth. Allow the mare some rest as well before foal imprinting.

Start handling the foal after they have fed, and the mare is settled down. Don’t force the touching and rubbing. The idea is to reinforce positive experiences whenever the animal sees you. Work with the foal for short sessions every day.

Avoid sticking your fingers up his rectum or mouth –foals have weak immune systems at birth, and this action exposes them to bacterial infections.

Do not humanize the foal or turn him into a pet. Horseplay may be fun at their tender age, but it will be dangerous for you once the animal is fully grown.

What’s the Takeaway?

Foal imprinting is the training that occurs during the brief receptive period soon after foaling and forms the young horse’s future psychological response to an individual, object or sensation. The handing can have both positive and negative effects on your young horse. Be sure to talk to your vet for guidance on how to go about it.

The Most Important Riding Aid

Riding Aid Featured
Riding Posture

Have you ever been to a 4h show and see a young rider passing the judge’s stand trying to pull her horse over to it as she passed trying to “stay on the rail”? The horse’s neck is bent toward the stand but the rear drifts away. Wonder why?

It is because the reins and legs are for fine-tuning communication and the ride/s weight is what the horse actually understands as the main avenue of communication. So many do not realize the importance of the ride/s weight as an aid. Of course, there are well balanced natural riders who ride relatively effortlessly not giving balance a thought. But, so many struggle, not understanding why their horse is naughty or what they are doing wrong.

A horse seeks to work under a balanced load. It is its survival instinct. If a horse is carrying an unbalanced load for a long period of time, it can lead to muscle injury, saddle sores, tripping, interfering, etc if the load is heavy enough. Once carrying a load, the horse has no way to fix it himself. But he will try to “get under” it by drifting toward the heavier side just as someone carrying a heavy backpack might try to jostle the heavy side over a bit.

Riders not understanding this will correct with the rein or worse, instead of correcting themselves. Some horses learn to put up with unjust corrections but frustration can build with horse and rider over this misunderstanding.

Lots of us have physiological reasons for imbalances: Scoliosis, or bad habits in posture, legs of different lengths…

I would like to show you how to understand your balance, what your horse feels you to be saying with it and how to use it for better communication with him.

Maybe you have seen videos of Stacey Westfall on Youtube. lf not, please go and look at some of them. Ms. Westfall rides bridle-less better than most ride, period. It’s not magic, although it might appear to be. It’s her balance and weight that she and others like her have perfected!

The good news is that your horse can tell you what your weight is saying if you give him a chance. Riding is truly a communication.

Think about riding a bicycle. You are riding along and then make a sharp left turn. Pedaling along, you, lean left, putting weight onto the right side of your bike seat. That keeps you from falling over to the left! lt is a natural thing to do if you know how to ride a bike.

But in riding a horse, leaning into a turn like this will tell the horse to make a hard right; the opposite of what you want.

Similarly, when a horse spooks to the left, some beginners naturally put weight into their right stirrup to keep their balance which says to a horse “Yes, you are right! lt lS spooky! Go left MORE!”

There is an easy way for riders to feel and understand this concept. All you need is a hard wooden kitchen chair or even a folding metal chair.

Sit up on the edge of the chair with your feet on the outsides of the chair’s legs. Let your knees drop, let your heels rise. Can you feel the chair’s legs with your ankles/heels? Pretend you are being lifted a little by a line attached to the crown of your head, let your chin relax and drop and let everything else relax as much as you can. “Line lifts”, everything else relaxes.

Now, feel for your seat bones, there are two of them. lf you can’t find them, scootch a bit more towards the front of the chair and reposition.

Got them? Do they feel the same? Do you feel one more than the other?

lf you feel one more than the other so does your horse. Experiment by bringing one shoulder back, then the other to try to make seat bones feel equal. Try not to tense up or use your legs at this point. You are working on FEEL. You might also try to rock your pelvis slightly (hip bones forward and back), feeling for your seat bones.

A balanced weight is what you want but for some, this may come later.

Let the weight of your belly drop into the floor of your pelvis and then aim your belly button slightly to the left. Then, slightly to the right without using any other tension elsewhere. Feel if anything happens with your seat.

The important thing with these exercises is to be aware of your body without the stress of controlling a horse at the same time.

Back to your position on the chair; sitting on the edge, knees dropped and relaxed with heels raised and relaxed on the outside of the chair legs, sitting up…Push your right ankle against the right leg of the chair. This simulates a request for your horse to move left. What do you feel? Your right seat bone rises. You are not actually PUSHING your horse over to the left. You are asking your horse to go left by weighting your left seat bone thus raising your right seat bone, not by leaning or losing your balance.

Girl Riding Horse English Style

There is no way that you can physically push your horse over while sitting on him. But he can feel the weight of your seat directly and respond to it. Sometimes a rider does not understand what her body is saying with all its parts but the horse responds anyway. The rider may then correct the horse but that is impolite. She should learn to correct what SHE is saying if the horse does not do what the rider THINKS she is saying. Feel your body off the horse to learn some of what you need to know.

Now, back to the chair seat. Relax your right ankle and push your left ankle into the left chair leg, Feel your weight going into your right seat bone? Make sense? lt does to your horse too.

Tension in other areas can lift your seat bones too. Tense your right thigh or buttock. Feel. Put a little weight into your right foot. Feel (This is like weighting a stirrup, even if not thinking about it.) Fearful riders have all sorts of tension they are not aware of. Riders nervous about going into an important show?

Experiment and feel. Feel your seat bones. Turn your head slowly, left and then right and feel.

Did you know that each of your arms weigh about eight pounds each? Tension and misplacement of them can confuse communication too. A good thing to learn is to “keep your elbows” at your hips. Relaxing your arms, elbows at a 45 degree angle. You might hug your hips with your elbows.

To find out why, stand up and stride about the room with your elbows there at your hips, like you are holding two reins. Stride around. Now look down at your hands as you stride around again. Are they moving? Left and right, some forward and back motion, following the movement of your hips? This is useful at the walk and the canter because as your seat and legs (therefore your hips) follow the movements of the horse, so will your hands move and they will go with the motion of the horse’s head from there. No interfering. A lot of unnecessary movement of the hands can be distracting from the job at hand, just as kids bickering in the background can be distracting from a phone call.

At the trot, you will open your elbows away from your hips a bit to allow for posting and a slightly different motion than the head.

You also want a heavy seat, in general. Try this: go over to a kitchen counter, put fingers under the edge, palms up. Now pretend you plan to lift the counter off the cabinet. No, you won’t do this but prepare. Your knees are bent a bit, your back straightens and your weight goes into the floor of your pelvis. You don’t want to strain, just feel the start of these feelings.

There is more to riding but these are things you can try to start improving communication a bit while you don’t even have a horse to ride.

How To Choose A Good Saddle – In Depth Video Series

How To Choose A Good Saddle Featured

I have have spent years riding horses and have owned a few saddles during that time. The main question for many riders looking to buy new or replace their saddle is how to chose a good saddle.

What kind of saddle would be best for me and my horse? They become confused by the advice of friends and advertising and don’t know where to start.

Having been the owner of several saddles in my lifetime let me give you some points to think about.

What To Consider When Looking For A Saddle

I have heard many people say that the blanket or gel pads will make your saddle fit better. Not so! Blankets and pads can only make a bad fitting saddle more uncomfortable for both you and your horse.

I could go on and on but decided to scour the internet and I found the best video I could find on fitting your Western saddle.  Larry Trocha from answers about every question you could think to ask. Its 3 videos separately and a bit long so pick a time and listen to it all.  You won’t regret it and your horse will be happy. Your horse can’t tell you…. so get educated.

Part 1 Of How To Choose A Saddle

Part 2 Of How To Choose A Saddle

Part 3 Of How To Choose A Saddle

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